|Dec 1979 / Jan 1980: Black Magiking|
|Writer & Artist||Dave Sim|
After his misadventures in Beduin (last issue), a four-day voyage on the Feld River, and a quick trip to another dimension, Cerebus awakens on the banks of the river. The locals think he is a "creature of sorcery" and capture him. The Tarimite priest in Theyr passes sentence on the earth-pig. After knocking Cerebus unconscious, the priest and the villager Despuess carry him to a forbidding castle, home of the evil wizard Necross the Mad.
Despuess goes inside, carrying Cerebus. When he fails to come out, the priest leaves, vowing to return.
Inside, the voice of Necross challenges Despuess: "Are you evil?" A bolt disintegrates Despuess. The same voice challenges Cerebus, who wants to see Necross before he answers. The wizard appears. He shows Cerebus his grand creation: Thrunk, a stone statue approximately sixteen feet tall. Cerebus asks if Necross caused the calamities that have befallen the farmers; Necross says, "I'm too busy trying to find a way to destroy the universe."
The priest returns. Necross (with a startled Cerebus) teleports downstairs to frighten him. Necross is shot with an arrow and dies. Seconds later, the body of Thrunk starts to move and talk; Necross has taken it over. The villagers, who have rushed into the castle, now face an angry golem.
Thrunk starts crushing the villagers underfoot. Cerebus, who has grown tired of the whole business ("Everyone in Lower Felda was in-bloody-sane"), climbs out a window and down the wall. Thrunk finally confronts the priest, who attempts to ward off the monster with his golden amulet. Thrunk swats the amulet away; it flies out the window and lands on Cerebus. After disposing of the priest, Thrunk realizes that he is trapped in the only room with a reinforced floor.
- Cerebus (last seen in Magiking; next appearance in Silverspoon story)
- Necross (only appearance)
- Thrunk (first appearance; next appearance in issue 80)
- unnamed priest of Tarim
- Pieureu, Despuess, and several other unnamed villagers
Swords of Cerebus #4 Introduction to this issue and Magiking
"'Black Magiking' is far grimmer as Cerebus stories go, opening in a typical Lower Feldan riverside village where the resident priest is a kind of combination mayor/judge/counsellor/chieftain/dictator. The inhabitants are basically those same lovable villagers who were never too busy to wander up the hill in the dead of night to visit Dr. Frankenstein. Self-centered, xeno-phobic, paranoid, quarrelsome, and myopic. If you tell them to, they'll be happy to throw some tea into the harbour just to break up the monotony of their day to day lives ('Crop's in. Expect winter'll be along in a few weeks.')
The ending on this thirty-one page story is pretty flat. I was not yet really capable of really pacing out twenty pages. As I drew the confrontation with the priest and villagers of Theyr facing Necross and then Thrunk, I kept coming up with lines I desperately wanted in the book. I identified so much with the villagers, engaged with this great struggle with the forces of evil, but still quibbling over who gets the crops when they get back to the village. The ending finally got squeezed into two panels.
By the way - the castle that looks like a huge Black Tower? Remember the Black Tower Empire that I kept mentioning? Well, it has nothing to do with that."
- In "A Word from the Publisher," Deni announces that she has ceased her duties as publisher to return to school. Sim is assuming all duties at Aardvark-Vanaheim.
- (page 2) Cerebus vaguely remembers the events of Magiking (first printed in Swords of Cerebus, volume 4) but dismisses them as a dream.
- (page 4) The narrator refers to the area around Necross's castle as Hell's Gate, Hob's Hollow, and the Valley of Mist.
- (page 6) Necross is responsible for many catastrophes in Lower Felda, including the Black Death, an avalanche at San Tremain, and a "great fire" in Beduin. Unclear if any of these are referred to again.
- (pages 7-8) In a sequence reminiscent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the priest explains to Despuess how giving Cerebus to Necross will save their crops.
- (pages 10-15, 19) The carved faces in the castle strongly resemble the ones on the tower in Iest.
- Necross is based strongly on the character Exidor from the Mork & Mindy TV show <citation needed>.
- Cerebus leaves with the Sacred Amulet. What did he do with it?
- He likely sold it to pay for passage on the ship Cutter to get to Palnu.
- and to buy ale. Lots of ale.